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Title: Fashioning Brazil : globalization and the representation of Brazilian dress in National Geographic
Author: Kutesko, Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 3045
Awarding Body: Courtauld Institute of Art
Current Institution: Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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As a popular ‘scientific’ and educational journal, National Geographic, since its founding in 1888, has positioned itself as a voice of authority within mainstream American print media, offering what purports to be an unprejudiced ‘window onto the world’. Previous scholarship has been quick to call attention to the magazine’s participation in an imperialist representational regime. Catherine A. Lutz and Jane L. Collins, Tamar Rothenberg and Linda Steet have all argued that National Geographic’s distinctive, quasi-anthropological outlook has established hierarchies of difference and rendered subjects into dehumanised objects, a spectacle of the unknown and exotic other. A more nuanced understanding can be reached by drawing upon Mary Louise Pratt’s concept of the ‘contact zone’. Pratt defined the contact zone as ‘spaces where cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power’. Photographs since National Geographic’s centenary edition in September 1988 have traced the beginnings of a different view of encounters within the United States-Brazil contact zone, driven by the forces of globalisation, which have resisted the processes of objectification, appropriation and stereotyping frequently associated with the rectangular yellow border. This is because they have provided evidence of a fluid and various population, which has selected and experimented with preferred elements of American and European dress, and used it to fashion their own, distinctly Brazilian identities. This thesis will examine both the visual and textual strategies that National Geographic and National Geographic Brasil (the Portuguese-language version of the magazine, established in Sao Paulo in May 2000) have used to fashion Brazil, but also the extent to which Brazilian subjects can be seen to have self-fashioned, through the strategic appropriation of clothing and ideas derived from an existing and dominant global culture. It will approach dress not simply as cloth but as a system of communication, whose many meanings are not fixed but continually informed and to an extent, even performed, by its visual, material, and textual representation. This thesis employs a multidisciplinary mode of analysis that draws on five Brazilian scholars, each of whom have used dress and fashion metaphors in their writings, which have encompassed poetry, film studies, poststructuralist theory, literary criticism and anthropology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Fashion History & Theory ; History of Art ; History of Photography